Employer Interviewing Part 3: The Interview Process

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Create & Maintain A Positive Candidate Experience

Enhancing your candidate experience creates a great first impression and a wider talent pool. Clear communication, efficient scheduling, and a smoother candidate journey during the interview process can improve satisfaction and strengthen your employer brand.  

According to Talent Board’s research, companies that provide a positive candidate experience receive 2.5 times more applicants

It’s common for candidates to feel anxious when invited to an interview, which can sometimes negatively impact their performance, even if they are otherwise exceptional. To mitigate this risk, remember to do your part in making the interviewee as relaxed and comfortable as possible. 

Here are some essential practices to follow to ensure a positive candidate interview experience:  

Clear and Transparent Communication: Provide clear and timely communication with candidates throughout the interview process. Set expectations regarding the timeline, interview format, and any necessary preparations. Let them know: 

  • How much time the interview process is expected to take, how many stages the interview has, and when a decision will be made.   
  • The number of interviewers who will meet with them, who they are, and what positions they hold in the company. 
  • The interview structure, what the candidate should prepare beforehand, and possible questions that could be asked. 

Warm Welcome: Begin the interview with a warm and friendly greeting. Make the candidate feel comfortable and valued when they arrive or join the virtual interview. Create a welcoming atmosphere by introducing the interviewers, offering refreshments, and ensuring a professional and respectful environment. 

Engaging Conversation: Conduct the interview as a conversation rather than a strict interrogation. Encourage candidates to share their experiences, thoughts, and ideas. Active listening and follow-up questions demonstrate a genuine interest in the candidate and help build rapport. 

Showcase Company Benefits: Highlight the benefits and perks of working for the company. Discuss career development opportunities, employee wellness programs, work-life balance initiatives, or any unique aspects that make the organization an attractive workplace. This can help candidates see the value of joining the company beyond the specific role. 

Respect and Professionalism: Be mindful of the candidate’s time, actively listen to their responses, and provide clear and thoughtful answers to their questions. Create an environment that promotes open dialogue and allows candidates to showcase their best qualities. 

Choosing The Types Of Questions To Ask & When 

Nowadays, starting an interview with A-typical questions should be criminal. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” “Why did you decide to apply for this position?” 

You can count on most applicants to be ready for these routine interview questions and to spin any negatives into advantages. They’ll be anxious that confessing their flaws or weaknesses will cause them to lose brownie points.  

Here are the best types of questions to include and when to ask them in your interview process.

Step 1: Introduction And Basic Qualification Questions 

Begin the interview with a warm introduction, allowing the candidate to feel comfortable and build rapport. Start with general questions to help the candidate ease into the conversation and establish a positive atmosphere.  

From there, proceed with questions focusing on the candidate’s qualifications, skills, and experience directly related to the job requirements. This phase allows you to assess the candidate’s technical expertise and verify their suitability for the role based on their past experiences. 

Step 2: Behavioral Questions

Once you have covered the initial job-related questions, move on to behavioral questions. These questions ask candidates to provide specific examples from their past experiences to illustrate how they handled various situations, solved problems, demonstrated vital skills, or achieved results. 

Asking behavioral questions provides a window into a candidate’s experience and understanding of handling challenging situations. Additionally, their answer gives insight into what accomplishments they value most. For example, questions that answer, “Tell us about a time when you…”  

  • Mishandled a situation and what you learned.”  
  • Went above and beyond for a client.”  
  • Had a conflict with a colleague, and how you resolved it.”  
  • Had to think on your feet.”  
  • Managed multiple tasks at one time.”

Step 3: Situational Questions 

To better understand how a candidate would handle a hypothetical situation, ask questions that will showcase where their priorities lie and how they think on their feet.  

“I often give the person a real problem, whatever I’m wrestling with right now, because you can learn a lot about a person that way,” explained Jane Park, chief executive of Julep. “Are they going to be my partner and be able to see the strategic issue and how to execute it? Are they interested and engaged and curious about it?”  

For example, utilize questions that answer, “How would you…”  

  • Handle an angry customer?”  
  • Work with a colleague you don’t like?”
  • Handle a disagreement with your manager?”  
  • Prioritize multiple tasks from different managers?”  
  • Handle an unproductive subordinate?” 

Step 4: Hueman’s Four-Question Truth Serum 

Over the years, we’ve compiled ‘the big four’ questions that often get candidates to open up about difficult situations and how they deal with them. It’s an excellent way for interviewers to see the actual human behind the candidate – not just who they portray pre-hire. 

Don’t be afraid to put candidates on the spot. It’s completely acceptable to ask about their previous manager. At Hueman, we call this The Four Question Truth Serum. “Start with questions like, what was your manager’s name? Oh, Sally? What’s her number? And then ask the question, when I call Sally next week, what is she going to tell me about your strengths and weaknesses?” says Sarah Hall, Director of Talent Solutions at Hueman. “Whether you conduct a reference check or not doesn’t matter. You still want to ask some of these questions to better understand the candidate’s behavioral patterns. That gives you a full picture.” 

These questions encourage applicants to be more truthful and help identify the people who best fit your organization. Here are a few that we recommend: 

  1. Who was your supervisor? (Ask them to spell their name)  
  2. How was “name” as a boss?  
  3. If we ask “name” about you, what would “name” say about you?  
  4. How many people were on your team in a similar role? How would “name” rank you in this group, one being the highest? 

Step 5: Probing And Follow-Up Questions

Probing and follow-up questions help you dig deeper into a candidate’s responses and allow you to gather more detailed information during an interview. They encourage candidates to provide further context, elaborate on their experiences, and showcase their thought processes.  

Remember to tailor the probing and follow-up questions based on the candidate’s specific responses and the context of the situation being discussed.  

Here are some examples of probing and follow-up questions: 

  1. Can you walk me through the specific steps you took in that situation? 
  2. How did you approach the problem from different angles before settling on a solution? 
  3. What were the main factors you considered when making that decision? 
  4. Can you provide more details about your challenges or obstacles during that time? 
  5. How did you prioritize your tasks or responsibilities in that scenario? 

Red Flags To Look Out For 

Having a well-defined idea of what you want in an employee can help you identify potential warning signs for current or future applicants. Below are some of the common red flags to look out for, along with a few uncommon ones.

Common Red Flags Include:

  • Lack of Preparation: Candidates who still need to adequately research the company or the position they are applying for may demonstrate a lack of interest, motivation, or attention to detail. 
  • Poor Communication Skills: Candidates who need help to articulate their thoughts clearly, have difficulty answering questions concisely, or demonstrate ineffective listening skills may have challenges communicating effectively in the workplace. 
  • Negative Attitude: Candidates who exhibit a consistently negative or dismissive attitude toward previous employers, colleagues, or job experiences may indicate a potential for poor teamwork, low morale, or complicated interpersonal relationships. 
  • Unexplained Employment Gaps: Significant gaps in a candidate’s employment history without reasonable explanations may raise concerns about reliability, commitment, or potential issues that led to the gaps. 
  • Inconsistent or Untruthful Responses: Candidates who provide inconsistent or contradictory answers or appear dishonest or evasive may raise integrity and trust concerns. 
  • Lack of Enthusiasm or Passion: Candidates who demonstrate a lack of enthusiasm, interest, or passion for the role or the industry may indicate a mismatch between their motivations and the job requirements. 

Uncommon Red Flags Include: 

  • Overqualification: Candidates who are significantly overqualified for the position may indicate a potential lack of long-term commitment, dissatisfaction, or difficulty adjusting to the role’s demands. 
  • Excessive Job Hopping: Candidates with a history of frequent job changes without valid reasons may raise concerns about their stability, reliability, or ability to stay committed to a position. 
  • Unprofessional Appearance or Behavior: Candidates who present themselves inappropriately or exhibit unprofessional behavior during the interview, such as arriving late, using inappropriate language, or demonstrating poor manners, may indicate a lack of professionalism or respect for the job opportunity. 
  • Lack of Curiosity or Questions: Candidates who show little interest in learning more about the company, the team, or the job by not asking insightful questions may lack curiosity, engagement, or a proactive attitude. 
  • Inability to Accept Constructive Feedback: Candidates who react defensively or negatively to feedback provided during the interview may indicate a lack of openness, coachability, or difficulty accepting criticism. 

Here’s How To Spot Candidate Red Flags: 

Turn the interview into an authentic conversation. Making potential employees feel at ease will permit their personalities to come through, giving you a better sense of who they are. Once they’re comfortable enough to speak openly, it becomes easier for you to spot both the positives and negatives about their character.  

Ask pertinent questions. To fully understand an applicant, asking questions aligned with your goals and values is essential. To gauge their level of enthusiasm, ask about their interest in the position, product, and company. Another approach is to inquire about their previous employers and how they speak about their former colleagues. 

Take a second look. During an interview, if you notice something that you believe may be a red flag, discuss it with your colleagues and see what they think. This is one of the advantages of using a panel interview.  

Use technology. If you’re stuck, tools like video interviewing platforms can be helpful. Analyzing signals like body language, speech patterns, and word choice provides a neutral evaluation of the candidate, which can assist in guiding your next steps. 

Ask For Candidate Questions 

One of the best tips for employers interviewing someone is to leave them with a good first impression. Do this by building 10 – 15 minutes into an interview for candidates to ask questions about the job and your organization. This can tell you a lot about the candidate’s priorities, such as if their main concern is salary. 

Remember, to express your gratitude for the candidates’ time, give them an expectation of when they will hear back about a decision or additional interviews, and direct them out. Amiable behavior is critical in making the interview an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.  

A job interview isn’t just for the applicant to showcase their skills; it’s also an excellent chance for you to entice potential candidates and make the open position appear more attractive. Promoting your company can ignite passion among attendees and ensure everyone feels satisfied with the overall experience. 

Continue to Employer Interviewing Part 4: Post-Interview Alignment→

If you are interested in learning how Hueman can help your organization attract and retain talent, contact us today!